• cerebral ischemia;
  • neuronal mitochondria;
  • synaptic plasticity;
  • electron microscopy;
  • morphometry;
  • pyramidal neurons;
  • hippocampus;
  • ultrastructure


Post-ischemic injury of the hippocampus unrolls at different levels and has both functional and structural implications. The deficiency in neuron energy metabolism is an initiating factor. We performed transmission electron microscopic (TEM) comparative analysis of mitochondria in excitatory spine synapses in CA1 stratum radiatum and CA3 hippocampal areas after 5 min of global cerebral ischemia in Mongolian gerbils, 4 and 7 days after reperfusion. Electron microscopy and unbiased morphometric methods were used to evaluate synaptic plasticity, and the number and size of mitochondria in synaptic terminals. We compared the morphological organization of mitochondria in presynaptic terminals between CA1 and CA3 areas in control and post-ischemic condition according to the following morphometric parameters: mitochondrial volume fraction, mitochondrial frequency in CA1 and CA3 terminals, mean number of mitochondria per presynaptic terminal, frequency of damaged mitochondria in terminals, and density of presynaptic terminals. Our ultrastructural study revealed statistically significant differences in morphometric parameters between CA1 and CA3 areas in control conditions, as well as in post-ischemic conditions. Also, we found temporal differences in measured parameters obtained 4 and 7 days after reperfusion. This study showed significant morphological differences in the organization of mitochondria in excitatory spine synapses between CA1 and CA3 areas, which corresponded with already known differences in functionality and sensitivity to the ischemic insult. Our conclusion is that revealed post-ischemic changes in mitochondrial distribution in presynaptic CA1 and CA3 terminals could be an indicator of hippocampal metabolic dysfunction and synaptic plasticity. Anat Rec,, 2011. © 2011 Wiley-Liss, Inc.